The Contender will face American Idol.

The Contender will face American Idol.
Mark Burnett’s The Contender is the most expensive reality show ever produced, and when it debuts, NBC is going to assure its success by airing it opposite American Idol 4. The New York Times sums up this stupidity succinctly: “How it fares could ultimately affect the commitment by networks to future reality programs. And yet the show is seemingly being used as cannon fodder.” The new series will debut Feb. 21 with a 90-minute premiere, then move to Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on March 1. NBC President Jeff Zucker says, “We know we’re asking this show to go into a very difficult time period against ‘American Idol.’ Our expectations are incredibly limited.” Mark Burnett is as cocky as ever, insisting, “I don’t have shows that collapse in the ratings.” Of FOX’s failed The Next Great Champ, he says, “The Fox show was junk.” Burnett also has big plans for this series, and how it will help him: “Each year, we create a different set of boxers. On my other shows, I’m limited if someone emerges like Omarosa. She’s not an actress. I don’t have access to her future value.”

Survivor San Juan Del Sur's dark cloud is lifted

John Rocker

In its third episode, Survivor San Juan Del Sur improved significantly as John Rocker faced off against an Amazing Race villain. But the Exile Island reward challenge remains a drag on the series.

Why Dick Donato left Big Brother 13

Dick Donato

The Big Brother villain known as "Evel Dick" has finally revealed why he left the show during its 13th season: he learned he was HIV positive.

Also: Dick claims he had no choice but to leave the game.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.